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Orthodox patriarch opposes plan to make Hagia Sophia a mosque

February 20, 2013

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has staked out his opposition to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Once the patriarchal basilica of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque when Muslims conquered the city. In 1935, Turkey’s government made the building a museum, as part of the secularizing campaign under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. But today Turkey’s government, while professing the same secular principles, has supported a campaign to build new mosques and convert some historic buildings into mosques. A proposal to make the Hagia Sophia a mosque is now under consideration in the Turkish parliament. ''We want Santa Sofia to remain a museum,” said Patriarch Bartholomew. The Orthodox prelate said that if the museum is converted to any religious use, it should become a Christian church, since it was built for that purpose.

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